Guest Post: Today we have a guest post from Samuel Murdoff, an attorney who specializes in real estate, business law, and estate planning. Full disclosure Sam is my cousin. However, Sam is also one of the most ethical people I have ever met. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University, where he spent 2 years doing mission work in Europe and he graduated with a J.D. and MBA from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN. I think his advice is spot on.
Hello to all of the followers and readers of Reaching Our Balance. It’s an honor to share some of my thoughts about personal finance with you and I’m grateful to Jason for inviting me to write a guest post.
I love reading Jason’s blog! He always shares practical ideas and ways to help you take control of your financial future. I’m impressed with his fortitude and willingness to discuss personal topics, like money, because money is so taboo in our culture. He is an inspiration to me and I hope he is an inspiration to you.
I am a solo-attorney practicing in the areas of business law, employment law, real estate, and estate planning. I have seen the need for financial stability in my own life and in the lives of my clients. The only way to accomplish financial stability is to plan for financial stability and to work feverishly to accomplish that plan. I would like to share one aspect of financial planning that should be a part of everyone’s life, estate planning.
One of the most important areas of personal finance is estate planning. I like to call it “Planning Your Legacy”. I use the term “Planning Your Legacy” because it really is your opportunity to plan how people will remember you. Will you be remembered as the person who had all of their affairs in order or the person who didn’t prepare at all? There’s nothing worse than to see someone work their whole life, save a decent nest egg and then see that money disappear in taxes, fees, or go to people it was never intended for, i.e. attorneys. Life’s hard, work is harder, and money doesn’t come easily to most people. Don’t let other people decide what happens with your money or things after you pass. I use this quote often but “if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” That’s why it’s so important to plan for your legacy now rather than passing off your mess to loved ones. We’ve all heard of stories where family members end up fighting over the house, land, or money. It could be even worse, letting the government decide how your money is divided if you don’t have a will at all.
Decide to not be a burden to your family. According to a 2014 survey by Rocket Lawyer, 51 percent of Americans age 55 to 64 don’t have a will! That number is even worse for younger generations. Don’t be part of the statistic. Give yourself the peace of mind that you’re prepared for whatever happens in the future and give your family the financial peace of mind that your assets will be taken care of in the best way possible.
Consult an Attorney. I know I’m biased because I’m an attorney. However, it’s important to find an attorney who will sit down with you and talk about your options. There are now many legal websites, such as Legal Zoom or Rocket Lawyer, which offer wills or other legal documents online at a discounted rate. Those documents can be adequate for people with few assets, one child, and no grandchildren. However, if you have significant assets (as many of you reading this blog will most likely achieve), a blended family, or multiple children, these documents likely won’t meet your needs. The unfortunate thing is that you will never know until it’s too late. Be an informed consumer and find out what options are best for you and your family.
Avoid Probate. Probate is the process in which the Court oversees the handling of the decedents estate. It can be a very long, messy, and expensive process. Just because you have a will doesn’t mean you avoid probate. Talk to an attorney to see how you can avoid probate all together, saving your estate thousands of dollars. That means more money for your family and less money for the government and attorneys.
You’ll be amazed how reasonable estate planning packages are. There are many different options for people to achieve their goals. A basic will, health care directive (living will), and power of attorney can start as low as $500 for a single person depending on what part of the country you live in. Here in Minnesota, people have no problem dropping $1,000 in repairs for a boat or a new snow blower every couple of years but when it comes time to spend a little money to protect their financial future people freak out a little bit.
It’s been a pleasure! If you have any questions you can contact me at Sam@samuelmurdofflegal.com or I love comments too. Most of all if you liked what you read, let Jason know and please frequent my website (www.samuelmurdofflegal.com) for updates on my blog coming out in June, where I will discuss the wild and zany world of the law.